Officials say this is the most they've had at one time

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Jim Wells County Correspondent

The Jim Wells County court experienced a record number of illegal dumping cases up for arraignment this week with 50 citations being considered.

JWC Abatement Officer Hector Zertuche estimated this was the largest number of individuals to come before the court for illegal dumping arraignment.

"I think we've done 30 in the past, but this is probably the biggest group we've ever had," Zertuche said.

Nine individuals pleaded no contest, or guilty, to their citations, which led to $200 fines and court costs averaging $240.

Two cases were reset for August arraignment and 11 individuals were dismissed. Over half of those dismissed were involved in cases where several family members were implicated in the illegal dumping and one family member claimed responsibility for the act in court.

There were three individuals who pleaded not guilty, and will be assigned a court date for trial.

Seven individuals had their notices returned to the court because of a lack of an updated address or failure to pick up the written notice for court. Those individuals were located, and new notices were sent to their updated addresses.

The remaining 18 people on the docket failed to appear for court, and the court issued warrants for their arrest, along with $500 cash bonds.

Once those individuals are located, either during day-to-day law enforcement warrant pickups, while committing a crime or during a vehicle stop, the subject will have to pay $500 cash above whatever other bond amounts they may accrue before they can be released from the county jail.

Zertuche had no explanation for the large number of people who failed to appear in court this week. Zertuche said he hopes the public does take the crime of illegal dumping seriously because the warrants that were issued, along with the cash bonds attached, are serious penalties.

"I hope they are taking this seriously," Zertuche said.

The $500 amount is the standard for cash bonds attached to other crimes, such as driving while intoxicated.